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How campaign funds disbursed in ‘two helicopters’ unsettle Kwara APC

By Abiodun Fagbemi, Ilorin
09 February 2020   |   4:00 am
What could have been responsible for the present rift among some members of the Kwara State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC), barely a year after landslide victories in all rounds of elections

Elders Warn Of Consequences Of Factionalisation, To Meet Buhari

What could have been responsible for the present rift among some members of the Kwara State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC), barely a year after landslide victories in all rounds of elections in the state remains a puzzle that must be unearthed if the party would make the much-needed impact in the socio, political and economic lives of the people of the state.

The spirit holding ‘O To Ge’ movement together appears broken at present, while the people are looking for answers to what could have gone wrong, leading to members of the same camp jostling for superiority, relevance and stoking embers of crisis.

In the present line up of political leadership in the state are; the state Governor, Mallam AbdulRahaman AbdulRasak, the Minister for Information and Culture, Alhaji Layiwola Mohammed, the Minister of State for Transport, Senator Gbemisola Rukayat Saraki, the state’s APC Chairman, Bashiru Omolaja Bolarinwa, Senator Makanjuola Suleiman Ajadi, Chief Iyiola Oyedepo, Dr. Rex Kolawole Olawoye, Chief Stephen Wole Oke, Senators Lola Ashiru, Yahaya Oloriegbe and Yekeen Alajagbusi.

The list also has; Cook Olododo, Moshood Mustapha, mallam Ishiaq Modibo Kawu, Femi Yusuf, among others. There is now a parallel lines among these politicians and no one knows how soon they will find meeting points. These notable politicians are the ones who plotted the collapse of the Saraki political hegemony that was headed by former Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

Already, two clear factions have appeared within the party in the state. These are ‘AA’ faction, allegedly being led by the state Governor and ‘BOB’ group, under the control of the party machinery.

Conspicuous on ‘AA’ side are Senator Ajadi and Chief Oke, the Jagunmolu of Shao town in Moro Local Government Area (LGA). Driving the soul of the ‘BOB’ camp according to sources are the two serving ministers, (Mohammed and Saraki) and Oyedepo.

For Olawoye, he confesses “neutrality”, just as he attempted to underplay the enthronement of factions, preferring to describe it as a rift. According to the pharmacist turned a politician, “the concept of a factions connote that from the head to the base the party is polarized. No, this is not the true picture. We are having one chairman, one secretary and so on. But nevertheless, political skirmishes will not augur well for our political growth in Kwara.”

The local APC chairman told The Guardian to “please leave me out of this.”

However, it was reported on one of the local radio stations in Ilorin a few days ago that the chairman was allegedly urging those trying to form a parallel group of the executive of the party in the state to refrain from doing so, citing “anti-party activities.”

But Oke noted; “some three months ago, I used to tell journalists that there was no faction within our party. But today, I can’t hide under a finger anymore and I need to disclose that two basic factions now exit. This will not however do us any good. We need this reconciliation faster than expected. But I need not pretend to you about it, I am on the side of the Governor.

“He is the statutory leader of the party in the state. If I fail to lend him my support and pledge my loyalty to him, then our struggles and votes over the years would have been in vain.’’

What then could have been the reasons for the ‘rift’ or factions within the party? None of the members in the crisis was willing to let out the cat from the bag. But sources under anonymity said the acrimony could not be divorced from alleged money brought twice into Ilorin, the state capital in two helicopters during the last round of elections in the state.

The first time the tranche of money was brought was during a rerun election into Offa/Oyun/Irepodun Federal Constituency, won by the APC candidate Olawuyi AbdulRaheem. The seat was declared vacant due to the unfortunate death of Funke Deborah Adedoyin. The funds according to The Guardian checks were put at N100 million.

According to a source, “the money was meant to give the then ruling party in the state, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) a run for its life during the poll which was used as the acid test to gauge the strength and popularity of the APC among the people of the state. The victory of the APC candidate during the February 2019 rerun election was the needed elixir by the party to see itself as the most acceptable to the people of the state.

“But only N25 million was allegedly spent during the election. Then, where is the balance of N75 million? A group would not want it mentioned but another believed that the balance should be traced and accounted for. This is the beginning of the crisis but not many people knew about this development during the subsequent polls. Dr. Bukola Saraki was our target then and we all faced him with all we had to upstage him. The second tranche came in through one of our leaders who solicited for financial assistance in the Federal Capital Territory in order to match the Saraki-led group during the general polls in Kwara.

“Many of the contributors had expressed disdain over how Saraki had allegedly poured invectives on President Muhammadu Buhari, when he was serving as the Senate President. The resources so pulled together were meant to defeat Saraki and his cohorts and to teach him a political lesson of his life. So the logjam ensued when the second tranche was not totally delivered during the governorship elections. The reason being that until the balance of the first tranche was traced, it would be difficult to release the entire second tranche. This made the Governor who was then our candidate to spend more of his personal money during the election,” added the source.

But, a Government House source thinks the theory around campaign funds disbursement should be downplayed, noting that there is no existing political party without one form of rancour or the other. He queried, “so the issue of money is what is responsible for numerous crises today in APC in such states as Edo, Zamfara, Bauchi and the rest?’’

Political analysts say the development within the Kwara APC could be responsible for why the Governor exclusively constituted the present state executive (cabinet) without much input from other stakeholders. After all, the maxim of ‘he who pays the piper dictates the tune,’ could be playing out.

Already, sources said that each of the 16 LGAs have nominated one representative ‘an elder’ each to broker the much-expected peace among members. Besides, unconfirmed reports said the factions may soon take the matter to President Buhari for possible resolution. A Government House source under condition of anonymity added, “members of the two factions have utmost respect for the President. I am sure very soon the matter will be laid to rest.”

Going down memory lane, Chief Oke, who was also the Second Republic Leader of the state House of Assembly, warned of the dire consequences of factionalism in party politics in Kwara.

According to him, “in 1983, when the crisis broke out in the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN), Kwara State chapter, it paved the way for the victory of the defunct Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN). The same scenario played out again in the year 2003. The incumbent Governor, Mohammed Lawal of blessed memory lost the poll. I pray that we will all reason together and pluck the proverbial Olive Branch to end this avoidable crisis.”

Oke urged all members of the APC in the state to give their full support to the Governor, noting that there still exist more portfolios that would be given out, “at the appropriate time.” He added, “we need to be conscious of the presence of enemies within and enemies without.”

In the same vein, Olawoye, a former chairman of Ifelodun LGA of the state, solicited for more support for the Governor, just as he urged the aggrieved parties to sustain the tempo of ‘O TO Ge’ and translate same to ‘Ise Ya,’ (It is time for work).

Despite the imbroglio, the government has put up a fantastic performance, fixing roads and pipe-born water, rehabilitating public schools and hospitals, prompt payment of salaries, among others in his first six months in the saddle.